Grand Challenges Grand Challenges
Grand Challenges Grand Challenges

UWA Grand Challenges

seeking a sustainable, just and equitable planet.

What are Grand Challenges?

At The University of Western Australia, we’re uniting our world-class teaching, research and student experiences, and partnering with communities to tackle some of the world’s most complex problems.

Grand Challenges are deep and difficult issues, with no clear solutions, that require new ways of working across disciplines and sectors to effectively address. Together, we can find innovative solutions to these challenges and create a better world for all.

Our Grand Challenges program will see our most creative minds working together to drive ongoing social transformation, working alongside our communities to better the world we live in.

UWA will focus its efforts on solutions to Climate Change and A More Just and Equitable World.

By bringing our networks together around these Challenges, we hope to make meaningful contributions, thereby embodying our mission to advance the welfare of our society.

2 people working in a lab

Why UWA?

For more than a century, our teaching and research priorities have aligned with the needs of local, regional and global communities to support economic and social development.

The partnerships we forge in tackling these Grand Challenges will help turn our research into real-world benefits faster and more effectively, and through cross-disciplinary collaboration, we will help industry to overcome challenges and harness opportunities.

We’re also committed to helping our students become the global citizens our world needs. We aim to instil in them the key values that will empower them to be the future leaders of our society.

Today, UWA is committed to seeking out sustainability in all its actions and to providing a just and equitable environment for all.


Home to 22 schools and 40 research and training centres, institutes, and major national research facilities.

60 Billion dollars icons

Our graduates are estimated to contribute $60 billion to WA's economy by 2050 (ACIL Allen Consulting 2010).

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UWA commands roughly 80% of all research funding to Western Australian universities annually

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We’re part of the Group of Eight, a coalition of Australia’s best research-intensive universities.

Our Champions

Our Champions are making an impact in the areas of Climate Change and A More Just and Equitable World. Get involved in the Grand Challenges and become a champion for these causes.

Anas Ghadouani

Dr Demelza Ireland

Dr Nicki Mitchell

Dr Caitlin Wyrwoll

Dr Ashley William Smith

A/Prof Celeste Rodriguez Louro

Georg Fritz

What we’ve explored

Using our world-class teaching and research capabilities to address these Grand Challenges, both students and staff have had opportunities to play a role in the leadership and research that is crucial to the future of our planet and its people.

Explore UWA Profiles and Research Repository and Research Impact.

We identify ambitious projects across science and the humanities that have a large impact on our local, regional, global communities and create outcomes that will benefit the whole world.

Underpinning our Grand Challenges are the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Explore United Nations' SDGs

Climate Change

3 Good health and well-being
6 Clean water and sanitation
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12 responsible consumption and production
13 climate action
15 Life on land
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A More Just and Equitable World

1 no poverty
6 Clean water and sanitation
7 Affordable and clean energy
11 sustainable cities and communities
12 responsible consumption and production
13 climate action
14 Life below water
15 Life on land
17 Partner ship for the goals
9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
11 Sustainable cities and communities
12 Responsible consumption and production
16 Peace, Justice and strong institutions
17 Partnership for the goals

Student and staff opportunities

There are many ways for you as a student or staff member to contribute to solving the world’s Grand Challenges. Connect your passion, purpose and career by getting involved. Explore just some of the opportunities below.

Education and career opportunities

Active Citizenship minor

The aim of this new interdisciplinary minor is to develop students' capacities to be caring, connected and socially engaged contributors to their communities through practical engagement with industry partners, and critical reflection on personal, community and government responsibility for positive change.

Engaged citizenship is increasingly important in a world that is global, complex and connected. Knowledge and understanding of the ways citizens can actively participate in their local and national communities is crucial to societal wellbeing; equally important is informed awareness of what it means to be globally connected where the impacts of social, political and environmental challenges reverberate internationally. The health and sustainability of future societies depends on citizens who are well informed, resilient and flexible, with skills that are adaptable to changing circumstances and needs.

Find out more about this new minor on the UWA Handbook or learn how to incorporate this minor into your studies by contacting your Student Advising Office. You can also email the McCusker Centre for Citizenship Academic Coordinator.

Climate Change minor

The natural sciences have developed a robust consensus on climate and related environmental changes and the numerous threats these present to the human and natural environment. However, translating this scientific knowledge into effective policy is one of the great challenges of our time. STEM graduates need to have a detailed understanding of the international and domestic politics, planning and policy processes that are key to implementing solutions to these global, complex and interconnected problems.

This minor prepares students for work in government, scientific organisations, the private sector and voluntary organisations by teaching them how domestic and international policy is produced, enabling them to apply their scientific expertise towards effective policy design and implementation. This minor consists of three streams based on specific global challenges: Climate Change, Urban Environments, and Environmental Planning.

Find out more about this new minor on the UWA Handbook or learn how to incorporate this minor into your studies by contacting your Student Advising Office

Ocean Innovation minor

Careful global management of ocean resources is key to a sustainable future, creating strong demand for graduates in a range of sectors of Australia's $100b Blue Economy. However, there has been a continuous deterioration of our capacity to conserve and sustainably use ocean resources due to climate impacts, pollution, water quality deterioration and an incomplete understanding of ocean environments. This gives rise to a range of global oceans challenges that society must address: in particular, developing sustainable solutions to oceans pollution, ecosystem conservation, food and energy production, coastal protection and, critically, improved societal understanding of the oceans.

The Oceans minor aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills foundation to identify:

(i) the extent, rates of change and complexities of these global oceans challenges,

(ii) the capacity for humans to influence ocean processes and environments, and

(iii) solution pathways for each challenge.

The minor is inherently multi-disciplinary, with each unit integrating views, approaches and understanding from the range of oceans-facing disciplines, including marine science, engineering, policy, planning and the social sciences. It is designed to allow students from all undergraduate programs at UWA to develop the skills required to drive the development of knowledge-led solutions to pressing ocean challenges and be valuable contributors to UWA's Grand Challenges programs.

Find out more about this minor in the UWA Handbook or learn how to incorporate this minor into your studies by contacting your Student Advising Office.

Approaches to Wicked Problems unit

Certain challenges facing Western Australian communities are complex or 'wicked', with demographic, infrastructural, political, cultural and economic dimensions. In this unit, students form small teams to address different dimensions of social challenges, working collaboratively with academic staff and the unit partners (community groups, industry or government).

Approaches to Wicked Problems offers enquiry-based learning, leadership training and develops valuable skills transferable to later studies and employment. Further skills developed include self-awareness, deep listening, inclusive communication and teamwork.

In January 2020, the McCusker Centre for Citizenship delivered this unit for the first time in partnership with the WA Alliance to End Homelessness. Held over four weeks, the unit saw 20 undergraduate students work in groups to solve a problem for organisations working to end homelessness.

Wicked Problems can be taken as a standalone unit or as part of the new Minor in Active Citizenship.

For more information, email our Academic Coordinator.

Master of Ocean Leadership

The Master of Ocean Leadership (MOL) provides graduates from any field with ocean-related leadership skills and expertise across marine science, engineering, law, resource economics and environmental management. This will enable graduates to strategically address human challenges in ocean systems and to implement solutions for the future of our coasts and seas.

The Master of Ocean Leader will equip you to work in multidisciplinary contexts to lead and contribute to effective teams. The course is a highly interactive program designed to be flexible and challenging for professionals and recent graduates alike.

McCusker Centre for Citizenship Internships

The McCusker Centre for Citizenship partners with more than 400 not-for-profit, community and government organisations to provide students with structured, quality internships.

Internships are open to all eligible currently enrolled undergraduate and postgraduate UWA students. There are four internship periods throughout the year - Semester 1, Winter, Semester 2 and Summer. Winter and Summer rounds are conducted as an intensive unit over a shorter time-frame, and during these periods internship roles are available with organisations based in regional WA in addition to roles across the Perth metro area.

Students earn academic credit towards their degree by completing an internship. The internship can be undertaken as a standalone unit or as part of the Centre’s Minor in Active Citizenship.

Find out more about the internship programs

The McCusker Centre also runs a Student Advisory Committee (SAC) you may want to get involved in. The SAC represents the Centre at various internal and external events, organises student events and provides the Director with feedback on a range of topics including the Centre’s units and programs. If you would like to know more, email[email protected].

The Centre for Social Impact

The Centre for Social Impact UWA (CSI UWA) creates and delivers education that transforms, research that informs best practice, and public engagement that inspires and mobilises change makers.

We develop solutions that are rigorous and purpose-driven and work with people, communities and organisations across Australia to grow their capabilities.

The Centre for Social Impact is a collaboration of four universities: Swinburne University of Technology, Flinders University, University of New South Wales and The University of Western Australia.

Together as a network, our purpose is to catalyse positive change, to help enable others to achieve social impact. Find out more on the Centre for Social Impact website.


Co-curricular learning opportunities

Global Citizenship

Global Citizenship is an online course delivered in partnership with global leadership organisation, Common Purpose. It helps you step up as a global citizen to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems, through the lens of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

You’ll gain an understanding of the SDGs and complete experiential activities to challenge your perspectives, encourage open conversations and learn from the experiences of others.

Global Citizenship typically runs across January and February in the three weeks leading up to Semester 1. Specific details will be shared closer to the time.

Global Leader Experience

Delivered in partnership with leadership organisation, Common Purpose, the Global Leader Experience (GLE) will develop your ability to lead from a global perspective. Alongside students from other areas of study, you’ll play a part in tackling the big issues facing businesses, governments and societies worldwide. 

The Global Leader Experience will provide you with practical experiences, instil in you a global perspective and challenge you to adapt to dynamic situations. You’ll come out of the experience equipped with the tools needed to lead change, now and in the future.

Global Leader Experience is typically run in person over four days in July in the lead-up to Semester 2.

Joondalup Innovation Challenge

UWA Grand Challenges teamed up with Venture to sponsor student participation in the 2023 Joondalup Innovation Challenge!

The Joondalup Innovation Challenge (JIC)  is Western Australia’s foremost collaborative Innovation Challenge, bringing together over 100 students from six educational institutions. Students work in multidisciplinary teams to solve real-world problems faced by Joondalup residents, students and businesses. Students develop key employability skills including communication, innovation, leadership, business agility and networking.

Students prepare themselves for the future of work by learning how to rapidly make decisions and deploy creative, technology-based solutions. They can build their confidence and capability in digital literacy and critical technology skills by attending both live and virtual summits and mastermind sessions and by preparing video pitches using the latest technology platforms.

Find out more on the Joondalup Innovation Challenge website.

Venture: Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Venture’s partnership with Grand Challenges enhances support to current UWA student entrepreneurs who have a social enterprise concept that uses social innovations to make a positive difference and create change in the world. All incubated businesses seek to address 1 or more of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and 1 or more of the UWA Grand Challenges, A More Just and Equitable World and Climate Change.

Venture is a UWA Student Guild initiative that exists to better prepare students for the future of work, whatever that might look like. Through the curation of a suite of industry events and hackathons, industry-led skills development workshops, and via three flagship programs:

  1. Venture’s Innovation Consultancy works with industry partners to solve challenges;
  2. Venture’s Incubator supports the development of social and/or environmental impact student-led businesses through mentorship, a structured education program, industry-led workshops and equity-free seed funding;
  3. Venture’s Startup Internships where students learn industry-specific, practical tools with our industry partners before interning in one of Venture’s incubated start-ups.

Venture’s programs can be completed as work-integrated learning units or as additional, co-curricular opportunities.

Find out more or get involved by contacting [email protected].

Making a Difference Grants 

UWA Grand Challenges Making a Difference Grants support and empower current UWA students and future students to implement social and environmental initiatives aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and UWA Grand Challenges.

The grants are one of the ways that current students can contribute to the Grand Challenges and be part of UWA’s approach to sustainable education.

Next Gen: High School Making a Difference Grants

Next Gen for High School students are worth up to $500 and are available to WA high schools, who want to make a positive difference by creating a social and/or environmental impact initiative in their school and/or connected communities, that addresses one or more of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and one or more of the UWA Grand Challenges, A More Just and Equitable World and Climate Change.

Key dates

  • Regional School Applications now open
  • Metro School Applications closed – Monday 8 April 2024
  • Regional School Applications close- Monday 13 May 2024
  • Metro Shortlisting announced – Friday 19 April 2024
  • Regional Shortlisting announced- Friday 24 May 2024
  • Midway reports due – Friday 7 June 2024
  • Projects to be completed – Friday 30 August 2024
  • Showcase – Friday 20 September 2024

Applications will be awarded based on the following:

  • Impact and Objectives
    • Do the objectives create a measurable social and/or environmental impact?
    • Are the objectives clear and achievable in the proposed timeframe?
    • How will the proposed impact affect the school community, and/or wider community?
  • Alignment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and UWA Grand Challenges
  • Need and Sustainability
    • Is there a broader need for the proposed initiative in the wider community?
    • Is this a new or existing Initiative? Greater weighting will be placed on new innovative initiatives.
    • Is there potential for this initiative to be ongoing?
    • Have you considered the sustainability/recurrence of the initiative beyond the grant funding?
  • Benefit and Collaboration 
    • What are the potential benefits of the initiative on the community?
    • Will the project involve collaboration with other organisations i.e. local governments, Not for Profits etc?
  • Resources and Evaluation 
    • Does the application articulate resources required and why?
    • What additional resource contributions could be leveraged i.e. In-Kind funding, volunteer time.
    • How do you intend to measure the impact of the initiative?

Please reach out to [email protected] if you have any questions.

Impact: Current UWA Students

The Impact Making a Difference grants are available to current UWA students and are designed to stimulate social and environmental impact initiatives that address one or more of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and one or more of the UWA Grand Challenges, A More Just and Equitable World and Climate Change. There are two sub-categories:

  1. Grants up to $500 for current UWA students to create an initiative or series of small initiatives to stimulate social and/or environmental impact.
  2. Grants up to $2,500 for current UWA students to connect, advance or add value to current UWA research or area of study, stimulate new areas of student research, produce a resource or policy, or implement a program.

Impact projects will have access to mentoring and support from UWA staff and/or Alumni.

Key dates

  • Applications now open 
  • Human Centred Design Thinking Workshop – Monday 8 April 2024 11.00 @ Venture Offices (Open to all UWA students)
  • Applications close – Monday 15 April 2024
  • Shortlisting announced – Monday 22 April 2024
  • Midway reports due – Friday June 14
  • Projects due – Friday 30 August 2024
  • Showcase – Friday 20 September 2024

Applications will be awarded based on the following:

  • Impact and Objectives
    • Do the objectives create a measurable social and/or environmental impact?
    • Are the objectives clear and achievable in the proposed timeframe?
    • How will the proposed impact affect the university community, and/or wider community?
  • Alignment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and UWA Grand Challenges 
  • Need and Sustainability 
    • Is there a broader need for the proposed initiative in the wider community? 
    • Is this a new or existing Initiative? Greater weighting will be placed on new innovative initiatives.
    • Is there potential for this initiative to be ongoing?  
    • Have you considered the sustainability/recurrence of the initiative beyond the grant funding? 
  • Benefit and Collaboration 
    • What are the potential benefits of the initiative on the community?  
    • Will the project involve collaboration with other organisations i.e. local governments, Not for Profits etc?  
  • Resources and Evaluation 
    • Does the application articulate resources required and why? 
    • What additional resource contributions could be leveraged i.e. In-Kind funding, volunteer time.   
    • How do you intend to measure the impact of the initiative?  

Please reach out to [email protected] if you have any questions.

Previous Making A Difference Grant Projects

Congratulations to the following schools for receiving grants in 2023:

  • Busselton Senior High School
  • Duncraig Senior High School
  • Greenwood College
  • Presbyterian Ladies’ College
  • Santa Maria College
  • St Norbert College

The high school projects focused on waste reduction, mental health, plastic monitoring and bee habitats from Busselton SHS, Duncraig SHS, Greenwood College, Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Santa Maria College and St Norbert College. Busselton SHS’s Caring for Country program saw students undertake environmental recovery, including anti-erosion and revegetation activities, on Wadandi Boodja and installing sanctuaries for the endangered Quenda after the Meelup Regional Park fires.

The current UWA student initiatives included the Robotics Club initiating a primary school outreach program down in Albany, Guild Volunteering developing a new UWA Guild Community Garden, Venture and Enactus collaborating to run a Grand Challenges Hackathon and students in the Business school running SustainFest allowing more students to engage with the Grand Challenges. Numerous initiatives including those by AISEC also engaged and partnered with industry.

Previous Making a Difference Grant Projects [PDF 12MB]

Volunteering and life on campus

UWA Guild

The UWA Guild contains many opportunities for students to get involved.

You can turn your passion into action with Guild Volunteering. There are many opportunities to make social and environmental impact and your volunteer hours can be added to your academic transcript. 

There are numerous clubs and societies whose activities align with the UWA Grand Challenges and/or the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The Student Guild Environment Department also works to promote sustainable change by providing a platform for students to engage with and advocate for environmental action. Visit the Environment Department website to learn how to get involved.

Explore clubs and societies

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We have countless graduates who work within our Grand Challenges themes.

Explore some of their sustainability podcasts to learn about graduates who are changemakers in society.

Sustainability Connect: UWA Alumni in the Americas

Sustainability Connect: UWA Alumni in Asia

Initiatives and projects

Explore just some of the projects and initiatives undertaken by members of the UWA community that align with our Grand Challenges.

Coronavax project

The Coronavax project is a joint initiative between the VaxPolLab at UWA and the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at Telethon Kids Institute. The project documents community attitudes regarding COVID-19 vaccines and communicates these to State and Commonwealth governments. It involves qualitative interviews and focus groups with key consumers, social media analysis, and functional dialogues with government departments, linking the voices of the community with the ears of government.

Coronavax contains numerous sub-projects. Coronavax 1 and 2 focus on young adults, adults 65+ years, healthcare and aged care workers, and parents and guardians. Coronavax 3 looks at hard-to-reach groups:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the Perth metro area
  • Adults from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • Non-Indigenous adults living in regional or remote WA
  • Adults from vulnerable communities experiencing homelessness, domestic violence or substance abuse
  • Adults aged 18 to 64 years with comorbidities

Coronavax 3 asks what these groups need in terms of government communication and information regarding a COVID-19 vaccine. How do their attitudes compare to other vaccines? What are their concerns? How do they want government to speak to them? How can government best motivate or assist these groups to get vaccinated? By using interviews, focus groups, social media analysis and dialogue, we can document their concerns and communicate them to governments.

One of UWA’s Grand Challenges is A More Just and Equitable World Post-COVID-19. Relatedly, two of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are Good health and well-being (SDG 3) and Reduced inequalities (SDG 10). Coronavax 3 fulfils this Grand Challenge and these goals by focusing on population groups that are difficult to reach and at risk of being ‘left behind’ during a mainstream COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

For a successful COVID-19 vaccine program, it is imperative we pay attention to groups at high risk of morbidity and transmission, particularly those expected to be poorly reached by mainstream rollout.

The COVID-19 outbreak experience in Melbourne’s public housing towers illustrates that communities are not homogenous, and need to be consulted regarding their own wellbeing and resilience. Western Australia’s Aboriginal communities have successfully advocated for policies and programs that keep them COVID-free. We need to build on these strengths and capacities by working with communities to research and develop plans for optimal vaccine uptake.

Assisted colonisation as a management response to climate change

In a general sense, our climate is shifting poleward and the corridors of habitat that allowed species to track such shifts in the past are now in fragments. In 2010, a UWA-led team began a world-first initiative to circumvent this problem for a critically endangered reptile.

Seasonal wetlands 300km south of the known range of the Western Swamp Turtle (or tortoise) that are likely to provide suitable microclimates in the future were identified, and trial translocations of captive-bred turtles to candidate wetlands began in 2016. This type of action, known as ‘assisted colonisation’ or ‘assisted migration’ is controversial due to the risk of the introduced species transforming its new environment, but is not unlike situations where threatened animal species have been rescued from extinction by moving them to islands safe from invasive predators.

Western Swamp Turtles are also vulnerable to introduced predators, but critically, they need reliable winter rainfall to fill the seasonal wetlands where they breed and grow. The combination of lowering groundwater, reduced rainfall and heavily fragmented habitat surrounding the last remaining viable wild population north of Perth is making it impossible for this very rare species to mount a recovery without conservation interventions.

This project is an ongoing collaboration between university researchers (including many UWA PhD, honours and master’s students), and the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and in recent years has been supported by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the National Environmental Science Program and WWF Australia. It addresses SDG 13 Climate action and SDG 15 Life on land.

The research has been featured in the New York Times and Nature as a pioneering example of assisted colonisation, and project leader Nicki Mitchell has given several plenary addresses at international conferences on this emerging option for maintaining wild populations of threatened species under a changing climate.

UWA Modern Slavery Research Cluster

The UWA Modern Slavery Research Cluster (MSRC) was established in 2019 and brings together interdisciplinary researchers from across UWA. Modern slavery is an umbrella term used to describe a number of crimes, including, but not limited to, human trafficking, forced labour, sexual slavery, child labour and trafficking, domestic servitude, forced marriage, bonded labour, slavery and other slavery-like practices. In 2018, Australia introduced its Modern Slavery Act (Cth) which requires businesses with an annual turnover of $100 million or more to publish annual statements on their actions to assess risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.

According to the International Labour Organisation and the Walk Free Foundation, there are 40 million people in modern slavery around the world – 25 million people in forced labour and 15 million people in forced marriage. 71% of those in modern slavery are women and girls, and 25% are children. Some industries present a particular modern slavery risk and certain countries and regions are known to present a higher risk of modern slavery. The Asia Pacific region has a high incidence of modern slavery, so this is a risk for Australian companies with operations and supply chains in the region.

Robust research in this area is necessary and UWA’s MSRC brings together researchers from a number of schools including Law, Business, History, Social Sciences and Oceans with diverse interests in human rights, corporate law, supply chains, SMEs, forced marriage, consumers, and the history of slavery in Australia. 

Our work aligns closely with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, given the focus on issues such as forced labour, bonded labour and the worst forms of child labour, it links closely with SDG 8 Decent work. Severe worker exploitation also leads to and is facilitated by poverty (SDG 1 No poverty). In seeking to understand the causes of, and propose solutions to, modern slavery, we work towards SDG 10 Reduce inequalities.

Modern Slavery Statement [PDF, 2,404KB] - Contact Geraldine Tan for more information

United Nations’ Principles of Responsible Management Education

The UWA Business School's commitment to advancing social responsibility is marked by its recognition as a signatory to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education (UNPRME). Inspired by internationally accepted values embodied in the principles of the United Nations Global Compact, the PRME initiative connects business schools and business leaders to shape business management education in support of attaining the UN sustainable development goals.

The UWA Business School's commitment to advancing these goals is reflected in its teaching, research and community engagement activities. The activities of the Centre for Social Impact, academic staff and the student body have enhanced the School’s reputation as an organisation that is at the cutting edge of researching social issues such as homelessness, migration, workplace restructuring, and now the effects of COVID-19 and thinking through strategies that can respond to these big challenges.

Becoming a signatory to the UN PRME initiative reinforces the School's commitments in the areas of ethics, social responsibility and sustainability, and helps forge national and international collaborations that open up opportunities for UWA to both share with and learn from the best practice examples of other top academic institutions participating in the global PRME community.

The PRME principles provide a unique opportunity for the School and University to engage with our students to develop their capabilities to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society. The principles also provide us with the opportunity to develop our students’ potential to be leaders who are able to work with all community sectors, especially that of the business community, to explore effective approaches to address the sustainable development goals and meet social and environmental responsibilities.

UNPRME Report - Contact Donella Casperz for more information

Marine Energy Research Australia

Marine Energy Research Australia (MERA) is an externally funded research initiative within UWA established in 2017, then named Wave Energy Research Centre. MERA’s mandate is to assemble and consolidate the world-leading research expertise on ocean science and engineering at UWA in their transition to ocean renewable energy.

MERA is currently focused on the Albany M4 Wave Energy Demonstration Project, with funding from the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre and the Government of Western Australia. Formally commenced in 2022, the project aims to design, construct, deploy, operate and decommission a wave energy converter in Albany’s outer harbour, King George Sound, to demonstrate:

i. the potential of the wave resources in the Great Southern to power the local economy and develop an export industry;

ii. the capabilities of the local supply chain in undertaking large scale ocean energy projects; and

iii. the efficiency of the M4 wave energy technology.

The total project cash value is $4 million of which the majority is re-invested in the supply chain of local businesses and Albany-based MERA staff. The M4 technology is non-commercial and based on the design developed by project partners at the University of Manchester, UK. The Great Southern coast boasts one of the world’s best wave energy resources for power density and consistency, and a grid connection point exists at the Albany Windfarm at Moodrenup/Sandpatch for a future full-size wave energy converter. The M4 Project established a nursey site for wave energy technology testing and uses a reduced-scale converter to model the potential for wave energy in decarbonising nearby end user operations such as the Albany Shellfish Hatchery and Albany’s Historic Whaling Station on the Torndirrup peninsula. The M4 wave energy converter is surface-riding with two frame segments on floater buoys, generating electricity through the flexing motion in the hinge.

The Centre is the conduit for marine and renewable energy projects in the region, with additional leverage of national and international academic and industry networks. Data from WERC wave buoys is freely available to the public and to technology developers and is a trusted source for the local surfing community and ecotourism operators.

MERA headquarters are in Albany, in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, where operations, fieldwork and community outreach contribute to the prosperity and resilience of a regional community and local supply chain. MERA is founder and Steering Committee member of the Australian Ocean Energy Group (AOEG), which is an industry-led consortium that aims to accelerate innovation in and cost-competiveness of the ocean energy sector.

United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (Western Australia)

The United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (Western Australia) is a network of leaders in sustainability research, training and education, working towards social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability, using education as a central tool. A UN Regional Centre of Expertise (UNRCE) is not a physical centre or building, but rather an apolitical network of individuals, organisations and experts who understand the sustainability challenges in their home regions and are committed to using education as a tool for building a sustainable future. As of September 2023, over 190 RCEs have officially been acknowledged by the United Nations University worldwide, five of which are in Australia.

UNRCEs aspire to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals by building innovative ways for diverse organisations to work together to share information and collaborate. UNRCE networks include formal learning institutions, like schools and universities, as well as informal learning establishments, such as parks, museums, private enterprises, local governmental organisations, non-governmental organisations and the media. UNRCEs ensure that the many facets of sustainable development have a place in primary, secondary, and tertiary education and research, as well as in informal learning spaces.

There are currently two UNRCE WA Network Hubs:

  • Perth
  • Albany

Global RCE Network

Email [email protected]

UWA Grand Challenges Summit 2022

Under the banner of the two UWA Grand Challenges: A more just and equitable world, and Climate Change, the summit brought together, students, industry representatives, leaders in business and government, thought leaders, academics, and the community to explore the solutions for some of society’s most complex problems. It was a fantastic day of engagement, with over 200 participants, keynote sessions, 8 collaborative conversation workshops, and the interactive Game Changer Village.

UWA Grand Challenges Summit

Sustainability at UWA

What we’re doing

Our Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2020-25 demonstrates our commitment and provides a roadmap to addressing environmental challenges as a University.

We are currently developing the UWA Sustainability Strategy which is guided by Indigenous ways, and developed with extensive consultation. It outlines our strategic objectives and focus areas for embedding sustainability into our actions, behaviours and culture. 

UWA Sustainability

Goals and targets

The University has a target of energy carbon neutrality*  by 2025 and carbon neutrality^  by 2030.

The University has developed an Energy Carbon Neutral Strategy to help us achieve energy neutrality.

* Net zero carbon emissions from stationary energy use

^ Net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions measured in accordance with the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme

What we’re doing now

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Installing solar photovoltaic panels

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Energy efficiency upgrades

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Procuring renewable energy supply for the campus

More information is available in the Energy Carbon Neutral website.

Have a question?

Get in touch with us

[email protected]